'Westworld' Producers, Team Downey Developing 'Sphere' Drama at HBO

Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest

HBO is taking a dive.

The premium cable outlet is developing a drama based on Sphere, Michael Crichton's novel about a team of scientists who encounter a mysterious object a thousand feet under the ocean. Denise Thé, an executive producer and writer on Westworld, will serve as showrunner and executive produce with Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan and Team Downey.

(Westworld, incidentally, is also based on a Crichton work, the 1973 movie he wrote and directed.)

Crichton's novel was previously adapted as a 1998 feature film starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson. The potential series will plunge viewers 1,000 feet into the ocean, where a group of scientists confronts the surreal, beautiful, and deadly mysteries of the universe, only to find the people closest to us may prove to be the most alien.

Thé executive produced the third season of Westworld and wrote two of its eight episodes, including the season finale. Her credits also include Person of Interest — where she also worked with Nolan — Gotham and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

The show is produced by Joy and Nolan's Kilter Films, Team Downey and Warner Bros. Television (the studio also released the 1998 movie). Thé, Nolan, Joy, Kilter Films' Athena Wickham and Team Downey's Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell.

Joy and Nolan signed a rich overall deal with Amazon in 2019, though they remain involved with Westworld. The Sphere deal was in the works before they signed with Amazon. Team Downey has a first-look deal with HBO and produces Perry Mason, which was recently renewed for a second season.